Nationally distinguished media executives Cathie Black, chairman of Hearst Magazines, and Frank Vega, chairman and publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle, will be honored as recipients of the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media, 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 30, at USD in Vermillion.
Black and Vega will be the 23rd and 24th individuals honored by the university and the Freedom Forum since the Al Neuharth Award program began in 1989. The award, recognizing lifetime achievement, is named for USA TODAY and Freedom Forum founder Al Neuharth, a South Dakota native and 1950 USD journalism graduate, who will be on campus to make the presentation.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre at USD's Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m. for general seating, first come, first served. Colton Recital Hall, equipped with a large video screen, will be available for overflow.
The 90-minute program will be telecast live on South Dakota Public Broadcasting, 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30. SDPB-Television will repeat the program at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3.
"Cathie Black and Frank Vega demonstrate that success in the news and information business requires not only great journalism, but also bold ideas, innovation, focus, determination, hard work and skillful execution," said Neuharth. In the 1980s, as executives of USA TODAY working directly with Neuharth, each played a crucial role in the success of that newspaper.
Neuharth credits Black with winning acceptance of USA TODAY from advertisers. Neuharth credits Vega for devising and implementing a national distribution and sales plan that made USA TODAY the highest circulation newspaper in the United States.
As chairman of Hearst Magazines, Black manages the financial performance and development of some of the industry's best-known titles including O, The Oprah Magazine; Popular Mechanics; Esquire; Cosmopolitan and Town & Country. She also oversees nearly 200 international editions of those and nine additional magazines in more than 100 countries.
Her book, "Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life)" reached No. 1 on the Wall Street Journal Business Books list and Business Week best-seller list and No. 3 on the New York Times Business Books list. "Basic Black" is now in its eighth printing.
When Frank Vega became the publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2005, he was the Chronicle's third new publisher in four years. Today, the Chronicle and its website, SFGate.com, reach 1.9 million Bay Area adults each week. The San Francisco Chronicle is the largest newspaper in Northern California and one of the largest on the West Coast. SFGate.com is among the nation's top 10 newspaper websites, attracting more than 12 million unique visitors each month.
As a teenager, Vega had a paper route for the Tampa Times. As a young thirty-something, Vega was tapped to be part of a research team exploring the launch of a national daily newspaper. Vega was responsible for identifying and solving the challenges of daily distribution of a newspaper on an unprecedented, coast-to-coast scale. After the launch of USA TODAY, Vega became publisher of Florida Today in 1984 and a Gannett regional president, responsible for several newspapers in the southeast U.S.
Past Al Neuharth Award recipients include: Walter Cronkite (1989), Carl T. Rowan (1990), Helen Thomas (1991), Tom Brokaw (1992), Larry King (1993), Charles Kuralt (1994), Albert R. Hunt and Judy Woodruff (1995), Robert MacNeil (1996), Cokie Roberts (1997), Tim Russert and Louis D. Boccardi (1998), John Seigenthaler (1999), Jim Lehrer (2001), Tom Curley (2002), Don Hewitt (2004), Garrison Keillor (2005), Bob Schieffer (2006), John Quinn and Ken Paulson (2007), Charles Overby (2008) and Katie Couric (2009).